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Rámon Bayeu y Subias

(1746 Saragossa – 1793 Aranjuez)

The Attributes of the Virgin. Etching. 29.1 x 9.8 cm. Páez 230.14.

Ramon Bayeu was taught by his more famous brother Francisco (1734–1785), whom he followed to Madrid. From 1765 he de­signed cartoons for the Royal Tapestry Manufactory under the watchful eye of his brother, whom he assisted in the exe­cu­tion of several cycles of frescoes. Ramon is mostly known today for his etchings, which he made at a moment when the medium of printmaking flourished in Madrid.

The composition of this very rare print is based on an invention by his brother and reproduces an oil study from around 1780 that served as a model for a fresco in the oratory of the royal palace in Aranjuez. The little modello is now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The depiction of the Attributes of the Virgin is rendered in a light, fluid and elegant etching technique that shows the unmistakable influence of Giambattista Tiepolo and his sons Giandomenico und Lorenzo, who had been active in Madrid since 1762. An angel and numerous putti float on clouds with a rococo-like insouciance; one of them holds an opened mussel shell with a pearl, the symbol of Mary’s vir­ginity. The effortlessness of the etching technique is also reminiscent of early prints by Goya, Francisco Bayeu y Subias’s brother-in-law (see exhibition catalogue Renaissance to Goya. Prints and Drawings from Spain, edited by M. P. McDonald, The British Museum London 2012, p. 214).

A very fine, delicate impression with margins. Minor staining and ageing. From the collection of François Heugel (Lugt 3373).

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